Tyler Harvey-Cowlishaw RSci, Laboratory Technician
How have apprenticeships supported your career?
I started on a Level 3 Laboratory Technician, quickly progressing to a Level 5 Laboratory Scientist and am now nearing the completion of my Level 6 Degree Laboratory Scientist Apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships have allowed me to rotate around different areas within the school of life sciences at the university. I was able to get a taste of the different aspects of life sciences and identify what I like and don’t like. Having this rotation broadened my networking with experience in areas such as central/core, teaching, research laboratories and business platforms. This delivered a strong base in my first year, to then allow me to specialise in the areas that I found of specific interest.
Working in a Higher Education institution offers many opportunities to attend talks, events and access to communities, networks and academics in life science or technicians in other schools. I have felt empowered to explore both base and specialist knowledge and skills.
By being an apprentice, it has opened doors to be involved with the Science Council, chair the Science Apprenticeship Forum and contribute within trailblazer groups for policy and wider apprenticeship developments.
Apprenticeships have allowed me to develop my career incrementally. I have an ambition to progress to a Level 7 master’s apprenticeship in the future. After my Level 6 apprenticeship is complete I aim to pause and reflect on my achievements up until this point, redirecting the time I am currently spending studying towards quality time with my children, allowing me the space to plan my next career steps and structuring a pathway to achieve those.
What does a day look like in your role?
No day is the same! I may have health and safety duties to undertake and laboratory management for a group of laboratories, but there is also time for experiments and responsibility to support postgraduates in the laboratories too.
I’m also able to spend time to deliver talks and other outreach activity. I find this rewarding, with the opportunity to inspire others to consider a career in the sciences and how apprenticeships can support them in achieving this.
What motivated you to become professionally registered?
I’d wanted to become professionally registered for a while, but a lack of time always created a barrier in me completing the process. When the Science Council approached to advise of a new apprenticeship shortened application route, I was able to access support to find out more. The shortened route removed the barrier of time constraints.
How did you find the shortened application process?
All really good, with the application being quick to complete and easy to follow. The online resource (padlet) split out the application into steps that made it far easier to understand and work through.
As part of the Science Apprenticeship Forum, we coordinated an online workshop to get more information and advice from the Science Council, with our experience providing feedback to this type of support, so to ensure other apprentices can benefit in accessing resource and guidance to aid their application.
As an apprentice, you have extensive experience in reflecting on your continuous professional development. The requirement of professional registration is much the same.
What do you value most in being professionally registered?
Having letters after my name of RSci (Registered Scientist) might seem trivial, but it demonstrates the hard work and achievement of my apprenticeship. I have achieved something to be proud of be completing the apprenticeship and having those letters provides recognition of this.
For my future career it can help in job applications, as it is becoming more common in job profiles to note the desirable criteria of being professionally registered. It also shows to myself and others that I value and have confidence in my own competence.
What do you value most in being a member of two professional bodies (IST – Institute of Science and Technology and the RSB – Royal Society of Biology)?
Having access to journals and industry updates are great to receive. I’m able to access a range of different networking opportunities such as conference and events. I selected the IST when I applied for professional registration and became a member of the RSB through being awarded the Apprentice of the Year in 2022 (Higher and Degree Apprenticeships), due to my outreach, ambassador, and policy work in relation to apprenticeships.
As chair of the Science Apprenticeship Forum, can you summarise the activity and ambitions of this forum?
I have chaired this independent group since its creation a couple of years ago, supported initially by trailblazer, training provider and end point assessment organisations, who felt it was important that apprentices could add voice to developments within science apprenticeships.
We are formed by a range of apprentices who look to collate and share our views in topics such as apprenticeship design and most recently in creating the first conference dedicated for science apprenticeships, covering topics we know to be prevalent for apprentices.
Our future ambitions are to continue to influence apprenticeship content through trailblazer groups, connecting with IfATE, impacting policy change and growing our outreach activity, providing resources for more apprentices to be active in outreach events.
Institute of Science and Technology
Arthur Nicholas – IST’s Education Officer and Chair of its Education Board
‘In choosing the Institute of Science and Technology (IST) as her professional home, Tyler has solidly underpinned her career and professional development. In joining with IST’s diverse and inclusive network of Scientists, Engineers and Technologists, Tyler instantly became integrated into a dynamic network, comprising individuals at all stages in their careers. For over 75 years, the IST has provided a unique melting pot in which to personally grow and collaboratively develop best professional practice in Science, Engineering & the Arts. It continues to welcome applications from individuals, aspiring to achieve best personal and professional development and wishing to explore and share their journey with our likeminded community.”
Royal Society of Biology
Cara Froggatt MRSB – Senior Professional Development Officer
Tyler won the apprentice of the year award in 2022 – our judges were particularly impressed by her advocacy for apprenticeships as a career route, and outreach activities. Chairing the Apprenticeship Forum at this stage demonstrates Tyler’s dedication to furthering improvements for science apprentices going forward. At the RSB we wish Tyler all the best for her future and look forward to seeing what she achieves next.